For the past forty years, Abbas Kiarostami has been the biggest force in the Iranian filmmaking industry, making such heralded films as “Close-Up,” “Where is the Friend’s Home?,” and “Ten.” Honored by numerous film festivals and other organizations, he’s one of the true greats of modern cinema. For the next two weeks, Kiarostami will appear at Syracuse University as a Visiting Artist, and will work with undergraduate and graduate students at the College of Visual and Performing Arts to produce a short film. Among the other events scheduled are screenings of his films “Taste of Cherry,” “Certified Copy,” and “Like Someone in Love.”
Indiewire was present at the screening of the Palme d’Or-winning “Taste of Cherry,” in which a man drives around Tehran looking for someone to bury him following his suicide.
Here are ten highlights from Kiarostami’s post-screening Q&A.
Opening statement. “I don’t believe in having to talk about the film before or after I’ve made it. You don’t need a confirmation…but at the same time, I need to answer some questions!”
On a question regarding women in the film. “The presence of children and women brings hope into the film. The first point is a close-up of a woman, him having her scent. It’s the first moment of doubt in him.”
On the possibility of hope in the film. “I confirm your view of the film. But if there are any ideas or views against it, I would not rule them out.”
On returning to “Taste of Cherry.” “This is the only film I have not watched since I made it. I do watch my other films. I have seen ‘Shirin’ 50 times. But this is a period of my life I don’t like to think about.”
On suicide. “Without the possibility of suicide, I would have killed myself years ago!”
On the film’s central question. The film reminds us of the very important point that we have accepted the responsibility of being alive. We came into this world with no permission, so we should be allowed to say goodbye.”
Comparing the option of suicide to the screening of the film. “It’s just like this hall. There are four exit doors. You are free to leave. I believe you have the option to choose.”
On Iran’s reception of the film. “The film was banned in Iran for being a suggestion for suicide. But in truth, it is a suggestion to live.”
On which scene Iran wanted to censor. “There was one scene, and it was the entire film.”
On the final scene. “The final scene is not about a game I would play, but a game nature plays. After five months of filming, the pothole fills up with rain, mudslides, snow, and all the trees blossom. It tells us that seasons change in time, it all runs its course, and it’s a pity you might not be around.”